WordPress 101

Build and learn how to think about building a website with wordpress and best practices and tools for search engine and social media.

Email Marketing: Tips for Improving Your Stats

emails-marketing-2Tips For Improving Your Stats

Improving your response rate, lead conversion, and sales via email marketing is very important, otherwise there would be no effort or emphasis upon this valuable email marketing activity. To help improve email marketing performance, here are some useful tips you can employ.
  • Would you believe? Go ahead and be plain, looking a little boring.
  • For the subject line of the email, don’t buy into the habit of selling; Tell them what is inside the email.
  • Getting past spam filters is integral to effective email marketing. People are avid at filtering out spam, and so are email inbox systems. Avoid using keywords or phrases that are known to be spammy, and never use CAPS. A quick visit to your own Spam folder in your email can educate you enormously.
  • Old lists often have many invalid addresses, hard bounces, and indicate a need to implement a control system to keep your email list up-to-date and accurate. There are many people who will change their email accounts every few months.
  • Keep in regular contact, at least once per quarter, so you keep your email list as up-to-date as possible. As well, this encourages maintaining the relationship with your email marketing list customers/audience.
  • A soft bounce typically indicates an email address is temporarily unavailable. It could be someone on vacation, or a full inbox. Keep these and try them again at a later date.
  • A hard bounce is a failed email delivery. Often it is a non-existent email account, or an incorrectly typed email address entered when someone became a subscriber. It’s also possible that it is a spam filter rejecting the email.
  • When email recipients receive an email and they click the “This is spam” button it creates an abuse record. This will happen when someone in your audience doesn’t remember you. Ensure you have your From and Subject complete with your company name so they will recognize you.

Email Marketing Tools & Comparison Review

announcementEmail marketing remains the most effective form of communicating with your audience and converting leads to sales, and those sales into loyal customers. Many business people are aware of this and are willing to tackle the chore of email marketing, and can easily find themselves bogged down with the task of managing their email list and ensuring the follow-up happens.

Automation

For some, automation is a dirty word. For others, they understand that it is the process of knowing what they want to communicate and putting the processes in place to ensure their message gets out consistently and effectively. The personal touch remains, as the opportunity for further follow-up happens as a result of effective automation processes.

An interesting statistic is that it is the 5th point of email contact with a customer that results in 80% of the sales that occur via email marketing, and yet, less than 10% of small business owners will consistently do this follow-up.

Email Marketing Tools – Choices

There are many services available for email marketing, and today three email marketing tools are presented, plus a fourth that is part of a much more comprehensive software service which does considerably more than just email marketing. Read on!

Constant Contact
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Constant Contact has various price points and is an excellent choice for the beginner who is only interested in marketing with a Newsletter Sign-Up. As you grow in confidence and learn more creative approaches, however,  you will find this email marketing tool will leave what it offers lacking for implementation on your site.

The difficulty with this tool is it limits the number of forms and targeted lists that you can set up.  During the initial exploration of the service only one Capture Sign-up Form for your website was available. With excellent email marketing, it is important to be able to create additional capture forms for a website that enable segmented sign-up offers that capture leads based upon preferences.

See Aweber below to learn more about other uses of multiple forms.

Aweber
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Aweber is an excellent tool for email marketing, and particularly for bloggers. This email marketing system allows the creation of various lists, and accompanying Sign-Up Lead Capture forms. This permits new forms to be created for Newsletter Sign-up, as well as others for specific offers that may be created on other website pages or blog posts.

With a specific offer posted to a website, when people sign-up, their contact details are being captured in specific and targeted lists that make future follow-up sequences much more effective.

The pricing plan is competitive and adjusts according to the volume and quantity of email lists and marketing. A particularly popular feature with this tool is that it will auto-email new blog post updates as a newsletter, thus taking more work off the business owners plate when new blog posts are published on the website.

InfusionSoft
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Email Marketing 2.0 sophistication: InfusionSoft offers a superb tool with two price points. The Basic Plan is for a business owner engaged in email marketing for their own personal business reasons. It also allows an additional user account access for support and administration.

InfusionSoft offers plenty of templates and sequences already in the resource library to help business owners to get started with creating and implementing their email marketing campaigns. This helps take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation, as existing campaign sequences can be utilized and customized to fit the business needs.

The Deluxe package takes things to a whole new level with features for handling ecommerce, affiliate tracking, and collections.

With the basic package, up to 25,000 emails per month can be sent out, and the Deluxe affords 75,000 emails/month.

Wrap Up

There is much more that can be said about each of these product offers. With each service, there are additional options for add-ons that can enhance your online marketing efforts. More information can be found on their sites. Many of these services will interact publishing to social media accounts and profiles.

3 Email Mistakes That Will Cost You

email-marketing-3If you use email as part of your marketing strategy, deliverability is probably among your top concerns. After all, emails need to arrive in the inbox before they can effectively generate leads. Unfortunately, there are a few gaffes that can cost you when you send your next email marketing message. Here of the top three mistakes.

1. Sending to an Old List
We know it’s tough to let go of people on your email list but the consequence of sending to people who haven’t heard from you in over six months is quite severe. If you email 1,000 people and two hit the “Report Spam” button, the odds of your other emails being delivered drops drastically. Yes, it’s that serious! The 0.1% industry guideline is mandated from ISPs and burdened by email service providers.

To overcome this, do NOT email people you have not had recent contact with (we’re talking longer than six months). Email permission typically expires after about nine months and spam complaints go up exponentially after six months. Alternatively, you can use a reconnect campaign via direct mail like a postcard or letter to help “ignite” their permission again. Permission is key.

2. Sending the Wrong Message at the Wrong Time
Over the years, small business users grow comfortable sending to their entire list. This can irritate recipients who don’t want every single announcement from your business. What do these people do when they receive a poorly-targeted/timed message? They unsubscribe and report spam. Tough love, eh? This isn’t the time for list scrubbing – it’s the time for targeted, segmented and truly relevant messages to be delivered to your recipients.

The solution is to narrow your broadcasts to smaller groups in your database. Leverage technology that allows you to segment the interest, needs and previous activity of your subscribers so you only send to the ones who expect your email and are interested in getting specific and targeted information from you.

3. Infrequent, Inconsistent Contact
Similar to above, sending infrequent, unexpected emails to your subscribers can be just as damaging as sending too often. Email recipients often expect to be notified on a monthly basis, maybe more or less frequent depending on your expectations when they opted-in. Exercise discipline when maintaining a quality email relationship with your subscribers.

If you plan on changing your email delivery schedule, let them know. Some marketers allow subscribers to self-segment into “Daily,” “Weekly” or “Monthly” communications. This reduces spam complaints and allows recipients to receive messages when they want them (not when you do).

A Costly Mistake

The cost of making these email mistakes will vary by the type of business you have. Undoubtedly, it will often cost you valuable email relationships as people unsubscribe. If you don’t adhere to best practices, your email service provider could drop you for spam.

There is a laundry list of to-dos and don’t-dos out there but it really comes down to one thing: respect. Respect your subscribers’ needs and interests and they will reciprocate. These top three mistakes small business email marketers do are often overlooked until after they’ve shot themselves in the foot. Consider this advice before you send your next email marketing broadcast.

To learn more about email marketing best practices, download a free report about Email Marketing 2.0.

A Website’s Business Purpose vs. Client Purpose

Purpose: This is the single most important consideration to being laser-focused on your research to get the results you desire.
When thinking about Purpose, most often we think about our own sense of purpose, dreams, and desires related to the business we are creating. Too caught up on this singular point-of-view, however, can and usually does interfere with reaching your market.

Creating any business, the end-goal is to create business relationships that will become customers who pay, stay, and refer. The only way you will achieve this is by putting your focus upon the customer and serving their needs.

The Client’s Purpose

When any of us jump on the Internet to seek out information, we have a purpose driving our quest. This could consist of:

  • gaining knowledge
  • accessing services
  • exploring solutions
  • entertainment
  • answering questions
  • and buying products

When we endeavour to “search” online for what we’re looking for, it is typically very rare that we search for the item by name. We usually will search based upon the outcome we desire.

Get Help: Often this perspective shift is difficult to explore alone. You can attain better results establishing the best viewpoint through brainstorming with someone. You can use the help of an Internet Marketer, a Business/Career Coach, or through a Mastermind group.

Examples:

Geography: The Good Life Vancouver

This site is a food and lifestyle blog created and maintained by a Vancouver wine representative. With the geographic place-name, Vancouver, in the domain name, her website gains immediate traction in search results for her local market.

Product Name: i2i Eyewear

This eyewear wholesaler ships product to optometry shops across Canada. With the keyword in the domain name, the ranking factor of the keyword, and the repetition throughout the website’s content (web-pages, blog, products), there is a dramatic improvement for being found via search.

Solutions: Internet Tools Startup

Understanding what people search for, keywords strategically chosen aid search to bring your website to the top of search results; more so when accompanied with a content development strategy. (at time of writing, this site is just under development)

To learn more about a Content Development Strategy, contact OMC Social Media Solutions.

About Your Web Hosting

Dreamhost AdvertBuying a domain name simply registers ownership of the domain name to you, reserving it from being scooped by anyone else. Once purchased, when the site is hosted somewhere else, the domain name needs to be pointed (directed) to the server on the Internet where you website will reside (hosted).

A personal favourite web-host, Dreamhost, offers One-Click Installers, and a whole variety of other accessible services that supports your online development and marketing activities. With the One-Click Installer, for example, you are able to quickly and easily install and setup the software that will help you build and launch your website.

The top-favourite software to install today is WordPress.

Once the hosting software is installed that will allow you to build and adapt your website to your needs, you are able to access hundreds, even thousands, of theme template designs for the website that will give you a functional web design to get you started.

For more sophisticated online marketing & business management tools, contact us at OMC Social Media Solutions about the turnkey hosted tools that offer a full suite of contact management and communications, email and autoresponders, member management, ecommerce, and content management system.

Your Biggest Challenges

When you give thought to your biggest online marketing challenges, getting a website online, utilizing the tools of social media, automating and so forth, what are your most significant challenges.

Dealing with Friend Requests on Facebook

phone-supportMy wall is already wide-open for everyone to see. It’s part of the game-plan. With business services, my artwork and writing, photography, and friends, not to mention clients, having my Wall accessible to visitors, and even open to their comments at times, permits a wider-reach and conversation for relationships to develop. This is why I keep it viewable.

Of course, being open online also comes with more friend requests, a growing network, and subsequently more requests of every kind to sift through daily.

I generally don’t act suddenly upon any friend requests, and I never distract myself from the routine. If I do an add, that’s at my initiative from the get-go. When I have to go through all my invites, that’s a chunk of time so I do everything then in one randomly scheduled sitting.

In the meantime, I get the chance to check people out more casually later, and if they have a closed wall and I don’t like the vibe, they don’t get in. There’s enough whack-jobs on the web, as you probably already know, that it doesn’t hurt to put some controls in place that simplifies your life, your time management, and your screening process.

Search Engine Optimization with Google Keyword Tool

find-informationThere are a number of facets to Search Engine Optimization. The first one is knowing a little more about your keywords than you may yet be aware. Google’s Keyword Search Tool is invaluable in seeing what is being searched every month, both globally and locally. Pay attention to both, as more often you’ll benefit from the Local Traffic more than you will from Global Traffic.

As you use the tool, you’ll also receive a nice list returned from the Google Keyword Tool that shows you a variety of alternatives based upon the keyword terms you put into the Search Report to see what are those search volumes.

Often, we think of what we do when we’re choosing keywords. This isn’t the smartest approach, though it is a good beginning. It is more important to understand what the person searching is looking for, rather than what you offer. More often than not, the search terms are different, just as your perspective is different than that of the buyer.

Go ahead and give the Google Keyword Tool a try.

Best Practics: Getting Traffic to Your Website

presentation-screenGetting traffic to your website is and should be a top concern for anyone with, or planning to create, a website. No matter what community online I spend time interacting with, the common question of how to get more traffic to your website is raised. It makes perfect sense.

The whole purpose of the website is to inform customers, and to create relationships with new customers. You’ll notice it states: Create relationships with new customers, and NOT get new customers. Those days are gone, and social media is a driving force restoring best practices that focus upon building relationships with people, as people. Along this journey into social media, there were many marketers who used this effectively with poor practices that result in damaged relationships. This article focuses upon the outcomes of this journey, and re-establishes the tried and true considerations for maintaining and promoting a website.

Blogging

Content is still King. Keywords are a must for organic search engine traffic, and for improving ranking for the correct keywords. Adding fresh content regularly through blogging is the easiest method, whether the blog be identified as a Press Release, a Blog, a Journal, or a News channel for your website and company. These tools are easily adapted to suit your professional and personal needs.

Keywords

Keywords are the foundation from which your content is built, and if you are starting a website, an important consideration to include when purchasing a domain name. Vanity names are cute, keyword rich domains find traffic faster. Thinking like your consumer or target audience, your keyword considerations come from the perspective of them using search, rather than only focusing upon what you offer.

Link-Building

Understanding keywords, and content, effective link-building can be achieved to greater effectiveness. Many sites exist for bookmarking, sharing links, and social media that rank very high in search engines. Adding your links with titles and or descriptions rich with your keywords helps create more highly effective back-links which will get scored by search engines. These campaigns create traffic, help build page rank, and improve your search engine optimization efforts.

Social Media

Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and hosts of niche-specific sites, are tremendous assets in your marketing for your website. People build relationship connections, and begin and/or nurture relationships on social media websites. Conversations occur back and forth, links are shared, information is added to conversation, and recommendations are made. Look to serve others, help them, and build a foundation that earns respect. When information leading back to your site is shared, more influence from your efforts is felt through increased traffic.

Email Marketing

Marketing is not sales, marketing is sharing information that is useful to your audience. Your audience signs up to receive news from you about your company, and about your industry. Their interest requires thoughtful sharing of information that retains their loyalty, and keeps your brand present and recognized with a sense of loyalty or appreciation. Offering tips, insights, informative articles, videos, and statistics, there are many options available to you that earn respect, and create traffic. Emails should always be brief, with an enticing link back to your website to further satisfy their curiosity.

Link in the Signature

How often do you email others, either creating a fresh email, or responding to something? A surprising number of people with websites to promote do send emails without including their website link with their signature in the email. Many email programs offer a setting to automatically add a signature with every email. Don’t be spammy, but do put your basic contact details with your web-link. You would print it on a business card and letterhead, so why not your email signature?

Don’t Stop

The most disappointing result I experience with any client comes about as they complete their website implementation and they decide that this is all they need. You have just invested capital of time and money into developing a marketing channel. I deliberately choose the word channel to draw your attention to the fact that today’s technology on the web is interactive; a broadcast medium. You won’t sit day after day in front of a television watching the same re-run. Your website needs a marketing budget and strategy that develops this kind of broadcasting ability.

Getting it Right

Is there such a thing? Time has taught me that it is the process, not the outcome, that generates the most leverage in life, business, and creativity. Taking the principles shared thus far, understand that there is no better time to start than right now! So it costs money, and you may have a limited budget. Starting where you are, and building up month after month, goals will be realized. Don’t wait for all the conditions to be right, all the budget to be identified, all the designs and content in place. Early launches and using the technology and principles shared, the intelligent feedback received and observed provides valuable direction to the process of building, launching, and managing growing websites.

Feedback

As with this website, welcoming feedback is advantageous to most website owners. It stimulates conversations that can better inform you about your audience or market area. Make it easy for your website visitors to interact and connect with you, and do provide links to your other online distribution channels such as your Fan Page on Facebook, a Twitter profile you’ve got running, or some other social media profile.

And what about your feedback? After reading this post, what questions remain? Use the comment form to post your question, or share other useful advice you’ve learned with your own website.

Social Media Marketing Realistically

crushed-head-acheWhen people say No, does it mean No?

Most often, it is the wrong timing, wrong circumstances.

Social media allows people to remain connected, without having to say No.

Your audience is not fighting you off with a stick, they’re following and keeping up to date (as it suits them), as to what you do with your site, if and only if, you’re keeping notices updated on Twitter and Facebook fan pages.

One day along the way, the timing changes, they convert; you make the sale, or receive the referral sale.

So know that the main focus of social media marketing is you’re filling a funnel, understanding that the stuff you put into the top, all comes out the bottom at its own pace and in its own timing.

The added benefits are the curiosity seekers, new followers, increased traffic, the potential hot new sales/leads, and maybe even some joint ventures, not to mention the new friendships and partnerships that will form.

Your Website is a Broadcast Channel

rss-bullhornMany conversations these days pertain to what the website is for, where the web is going, whether the same strategies from five years ago hold true today. Before the buzzword social media and web 2.0, everyone knew the importance of a list and having regular email communication to their clients and audience. In larger organizations, the web and email may have had much less prominence, as they opted for the traditional print media channels for the client / audience communication.

Today, so much more is possible directly online.

Any business can start small and scale up to meet the needs of a growing business. First and foremost, this must be pointed out. In that same vein of thinking, this list of ideas starts with the beginning entrepreneur in mind, and evolves toward a sophisticated internet site for the business, complete with its own social engagement functionality tied in, and an employee intranet behind a secure login.

  • Basic Page: Static home page introducing a new business, complete with an embedded YouTube video, and a newsletter sign-up box.What this achieves is minimal, although for some entrepreneurs and products, extraordinary things have happened. At the very least, you have created a landing page with some brief interesting content, with a call-to-action that invites them to sign-up for more information. Ideally, you will send them a Whitepaper or Free Report as a token of appreciation.
  • Basic Site: Home Page ~ About / Information Page ~ Products / Services Page ~ Contact ~ BlogAt the very least, when you add more to your website and ready to take on the web role more seriously, you want to fill out the information pages with more detail. The About / Information page is not one to be neglected anymore either. With the number of scam artists on the web as well, people are also looking to confirm your identity. Any and all information you add, personalizes the relationship to the web visitor. Speak to the audience that will resonate with you.

  • The Blog is a key feature to be nurtured on an ongoing basis. Blogging daily is a major plus for search engines, and continually improving your ranking. People hear this all the time. While this holds truth, blogging daily isn’t a reality for most, and not really going to have such a significant impact when reduced to once or twice a week. It’s when you don’t blog at all that it really hurts you. Regularly updated content ensures the search engines are always coming to your site and indexing its pages, thus improving chances of searches landing on your website.

  • Member Sites: These allow visitors to the website to sign-up, become members, and participate in an online community. When done well, this results in significant opportunities for responding to the market / audience, building loyalty, gaining product insights, and increasing a market-share potential through simple relationship development — not management.

  • Intranet Sites: These allow companies to extend the social engagement, knowledge share, and employee development across wider regions, improving company performance, business intelligence and process or product improvements through well executed intranet site plans.

 

These summary points are all about websites intended for one purpose:

Engage Your Audience!